Regional Principles: How are these defined in metro-Atlanta?

Whether you choose to accept it or not, Roswell is part of a much larger region.  Successful regions should focus on regional plans that put a priority on organizing the population into areas where mixed-use neighborhoods and nodes that follow the logic of a rural to urban transect (we'll discuss the transect later but if you need a primer, click here).  

As you have probably seen, there are areas within metro Atlanta that were able to implement some mixed-use projects prior to the economic fiasco.  However, we are still for the most part a drivable suburban city with small pockets of walkable urbanism.

When you take a look at the region as a whole, you find that Atlanta is fundamentally flawed when creating uniform regional principles and goals.  I believe this is due to too many competing and conflicting municipalities focusing on too many different objectives.  

We live in an amazingly expansive metro-region due to the unrelenting sprawl caused by poor planning, bad developing and a lack of geographic boundaries to keep the first two in check.  Studies suggest that for every one percent increase in population in suburbia, the land use increases by 8-10%.  This has caused Atlanta to grow like a cancer over the past 20 years.  Depending on the day of the week, the metro area is made up of anywhere from 10 - 20 counties.  I typically like to think of the region as 10 counties (10.5 if you count the North Fulton/Milton County separatist movement).

How does the region bring all of these bodies, counties and cities, together?  Over the past few decades, Atlanta's organization tool of choice has been the Atlanta Regional Commission.  All things considered, the ARC is a well intentioned and moderately successful organization.  However, we all know where we are today and it's not where we should be.  So, we have some work to do.  The mission of the ARC according to it's website is:

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues. 

This is accomplished through professional planning initiatives and the provision of objective information. In addition, it is made possible through the involvement of the community in collaborative partnerships that encourage healthy economic growth compatible with the environment, improve the region's quality of life and provide opportunities for leadership development.

So, what are the Smart Growth Manual principles that we will be looking at?  


  • Inevitable Growth - Replacing No Growth with Good Growth
  • A Regional Plan - Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, but Planning Regionally
  • Community Involvement - Seeking Community Consensus for All Plans
  • The Transect - Planning According to the Logic of a Rural-to-Urban Transect
  • The Neighborhood - Planning in Increments of Complete Neighborhoods
  • Growth Priorities - Directing Investment to Smart Growth Priority Areas
  • Affordable Housing - Requiring Every Area to Accommodate Subsidized Dwellings
  • Distribution of LULUs - Allocating Locally Undesirable Land Uses Fairly and Logically
  • Food Security - Ensuring Food Supply by Retaining Farmland
  • Shared Wealth - Allocating Property Tax Revenue Equitably Across the Region
  • Scale of Governance - Coordinating Government and Neighborhood Structure
  • Coordinating Policy - Avoiding Dumb-Growth Locations for Government Facilities
  • Legalizing Smart Growth - Introducing Smart Growth as a Way of Expanding Choice
  • The Limits of Water - Building Only Where Water Resources are Plentiful
  • The Shrinking City - Designing the Controlled Contraction of Certain Cities                                      


We'll be examining each of the above principles in a little more depth in subsequent posts.  Some of these principles are pretty controversial and would likely be political hotcakes in our region.  I look forward to your commentary.

Image Credit: Google Maps